Sunday, 31 July 2016


Monday 27th June saw me on Lollingdon Hill on a fairly quiet day.

One bird that I noted that I was unable to share at the time was a female Montagu’s Harrier.

I had just arrived on the south side of the hill when I caught sight of a raptor flying away from me about halfway to the A417. I quickly checked the bird through binoculars and noted it was a female Monty’s. It was flying strongly away to the south and I watched it cross the A417 and head towards the downs where it disappeared over Kingstanding Hill.

The reason I was unable to share the sighting at the time was it may have been breeding somewhere in the area given the time of year, and being the rarest bird of prey that breeds in the UK, it had to be checked out.

I notified the county recorder and he contacted the RSPB who as far as we are aware found no evidence of breeding nearby.

I assume this was either a failed breeding bird or an unmated female making its way back south?

Friday, 29 July 2016

Whats that bird?

Had a report today from a neighbour today on seeing a bird along the brook earlier this week perched up with a small Trout in its talons………………Not a full description but described as slightly smaller than a Red Kite, white under and dark upper and with a white cap and face!

He said it reminded him of a Fish Eagle which he had seen abroad.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Some movement

Cloudy with a few light showers, 19°, breezy SW.

A visit to the hill this morning in slightly cooler weather conditions.

Movement of Hirundines noted today over a short period, 66 Swallow, 24 House Martin and 2 Sand Martin, also 65 Swift, 5 Lesser Blackback Gull and 22 Black-headed Gull all moving in a southerly direction.

Present on the hill were 1 possibly 2 Common Redstart, Common Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Chiffchaff. The usual Corn Bunting and Yellowhammer and 20+ Linnet, 12 House Sparrow and a Yellow Wagtail.

A Hobby, Kestrel, several Buzzard and Red Kite.

Another Common Redstart seen and heard in the Meadow out the back of the garden early evening and a Green Woodpecker, Chiffchaff and Song Thrush in the garden.

Dragonflies: Brown Hawker & Emperor Dragonfly.

Butterflies: Brimstone, Large White, Small White, Green-veined White, Common Blue, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Comma, Marbled White, Speckled Wood, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown & Ringlet.

Common Redstart
 Corn Bunting
 Common Blue
Meadow Brown

Monday, 25 July 2016

A Hobby with a sting

Mainly cloudy with a few sunny spells, 22°, breezy W.

A visit to Lollingdon Hill with Loren this afternoon proved a painful experience. Whilst pointing out a singing Yellowhammer to Loren I inadvertently stepped a bit too close to an unseen Wasps nest. Within a few seconds we realised there were at least 6-8 Wasps buzzing around us and in my attempts to shield Loren I got stung twice, once quite close to my right eye. Fortunately Loren was on the case after we ran off and applied some salve to the areas of the stings so the pain was relatively short lived :).

Anyway back to the wildlife: 2 Hobby seen soaring and then landing in a tree about 600m away and a small flock of 20 Starling nearby.

The Common Redstart still present in a hedgerow along with a Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Common Whitethroat and several Chiffchaff.

Approx. 20 Swallow seen moving south over a period of 30 mins on the hill and a few Swift over.

Yellow Wagtail, Corn Bunting and Yellowhammer also in the area.

Dragonflies: Common Blue Damselfly & Brown Hawker.

Butterflies: Brimstone, Large White, Small White, Green-veined White, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Comma, Marbled White, Speckled Wood, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown & Ringlet.

Nothing got too close today other than Wasps!

 Hobby (the other was to the left and hidden from view)
Common Redstart

Friday, 22 July 2016

Redstart still present

Sunny with scattered cloud, 24°, light ESE.

A walk out to Lollingdon again today, a little cooler than of late but still warm and fewer species of butterfly around although good numbers of those that are present.

A single Common Redstart still present on the hill and a Lesser Whitethroat, also up to 3 Green Woodpecker a Great-spotted Woodpecker and several Chiffchaff.

Blackcap, Common Whitethroat, 2 Kestrel, a Hobby, several Buzzard and Red Kite.

Adult and young Moorhen in the garden regular now, as well as Nuthatch, Treecreeper.

Dragonflies: Azure Damselfly, Common Blue Damselfly, Southern Hawker, Brown Hawker and Emperor Dragonfly.

Butterflies: Small Skipper, Brimstone, Large White, Small White, Green-veined WhiteRed Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Comma, Marbled White, Speckled Wood, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown & Ringlet.

Record shot of the Redstart
Young Moorhens taking a break in the garden

Why do farmers do this? Earlier this week this area was buzzing with insects.............Today very little!

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Another warm one.

Sunny with variable cloud cover, 27°, breezy S veering to NNW.

Redstarts still present on the hill today but somewhat elusive still, also a Lesser Whitethroat.

A Blackcap ,a family group of Common Whitethroat and several groups of Chiffchaff also present along with the usual Yellow Wagtail, Corn Buntings and Yellowhammers.

A small flock of 15 Starling, a Kestrel hunting, a couple of Buzzard and 40-50 Swift feeding overhead.

Dragonflies: Azure Damselfly, Common Blue Damselfly, Southern Hawker, Brown Hawker and Emperor Dragonfly.

Butterflies: good numbers around today: Small Skipper, Brimstone, Large White, Small White, Holly Blue, Common Blue, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Comma, Marbled White, Speckled Wood, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown & Ringlet.

Common Whitethroat
 Common Redstart
 Common Whitethroat

Monday, 18 July 2016

Warmest day of the year.

Sunny, 29°, light SSE.

The warmest day of the year so far.

2 Redstart on Lollingdon Hill today, a male in the top bushes and a female/juv in the hedgerow on the west side.

Both very elusive and only seen in flight and heard calling.

Yellow Wagtail, Corn Bunting and Yellowhammer also present.

Earlier a visit to Cholsey Marsh and a young Cuckoo seen but disappeared into cover before I could get a pic, otherwise rather quiet but most warblers seen and the odd song heard.

Great Crested Grebe and 2 Mute Swan on the river and a pair of Kingfisher noted along with c20 Black-headed Gull flying upriver.

40+ Swift seen zipping around by the “Morning Star Pub” coming back from the Marsh.

Dragonflies: Banded Demoiselle, Common Blue Damselfly, Azure Damselfly, Southern Hawker, Brown Hawker and Emperor Dragonfly.

Butterflies: Small Skipper, Essex Skipper (1), Brimstone, Large White, Small White, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma, Marbled White, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown & Ringlet.

Red Admiral
 Small Skipper
 Corn Bunting
Marbled White

There appears to have been some “illegal” fishing going on along the river bank over the week end with families staying all night, lighting fires and erecting gazebos etc.

Unfortunately rubbish and the gazebo frame was left on the river bank along with the scars of where the fires were (the fires are for cooking fish taken from the river, so I am informed).

Environment Agency: What are you doing about this? Ans = nothing. Is it EA's responsibility?

The rubbish bin at the bottom of Ferry road was overwhelmed by the amount of rubbish left there.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Local weekly round up.

2 lots of Moorhen in the garden over the week end, 2 adults and 4 young and about an hour later a single adult with 2 young. The 2 young are slightly larger than the 4 so possibly a week or two older. The adult Moorhens are very protective of their young and have aggressively chased off both Grey Squirrel and Carrion Crow that got too close.

Treecreeper, Nuthatch and Great-spotted Woodpecker regular in the garden recently and adult and young Green Woodpecker mainly in the meadow and also in the garden, also a frequent evening visit of up to 8 Long-tailed Tit.

The Harris Hawk also seen recently around Cholsey Marsh (per TW & JL).

News from the EastEnder: “Up to 7 Noctule and several Pipistrelle Bats seen over the garden recently.

Several moths caught recently include a Fern (also one caught by JL in West End), the second in the last three years. This species appears to have spread into the area lately.

Good catches recently including Elephant Hawkmoth, Small Elephant Hawkmoth, Poplar Hawkmoth and Privet Hawkmoth.

Other moths not usually caught included Bordered Sallow, Valerian Pug, Marbled Coronet, Barred Yellow, Waved Black, Sycamore, Plain Golden Y and Spinach Moth.

Also caught a male Stag Beetle and a female found crawling by the cottage.

Butterflies recently: Plenty of Marbled White, Ringlet, Meadow Brown, a few Small Tortoiseshell, Small White, Small Skipper, Essex Skipper, Gatekeeper, a couple of Comma & Brimstone and one very played out Common Blue/Brown Argus. The last being largely absent and also no Small Copper recently.”

Thanks to Richard Broughton for the following: Molly ended up rearing 5 ducklings to fledging (flying). There's at least 4 black & white siblings of their mother still around too, so overall that's 10 from the call duck lineage currently on the brook (from a single founding female 2 years ago). Molly and her brood are still together.

Local Sparrowhawks also have fledglings.

The Moorhen chicks were hatched next to our garden - originally there were at least 6, but from day 1 the parents foolishly kept bringing the chick’s right out onto the lawn, well away from the stream. Several times I had to 'rescue' the chicks and carry them back to water when the parents were flushed and young left exposed to kites/crows. Soon after they went under the bridge to your end. Competition with all the ducks might have been a factor - along with Molly and her siblings/young, there's about half a dozen wild-type mallards also coming to the garden (so upwards of 15 ducks!).

A Kingfisher is on the brook lately - always one appearing at this time of year.

 Blackbird bath time

 Molly and the crew (thanks to Richard for the pics).

Thanks to: Tony Williams, John Lucas, Tony Rayner and Richard Broughton fot the info.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Dragon Emperor

Cloudy with very few sunny spells, 17°, light NW.

A walk out to Lollingdon again, Yellow Wagtail, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Common Whitethroat, Reed Bunting, Yellowhammer and Corn Bunting all present.

Quite a few young of some of the above species also noted.

Around 200 Swift seen feeding over fields between Lollingdon and the village for approx. 10 minutes then drifted off towards Cholsey Hill and several Swallow feeding around Lollingdon Hill.

A Kestrel and several Buzzard present and a Coal Tit seen.

Dragonflies: Emperor.

Butterflies: Large Skipper, Small Skipper, Large White, Small White, Comma, Small Tortoiseshell, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown & Ringlet.

Also several Hornet Mimic Hoverfly seen.

 Emperor Dragonfly

 Large Skipper
 Hornet Mimic Hoverfly
Large Skipper

Garden Chiffchaffs

Cloudy with very few sunny spells (rain later), 17°, light NW.

When I got back home this afternoon there were 2 Chiffchaff feeding in the garden, also Moorhen with young, Nuthatch, Long-tailed Tit and Treecreeper and later the male Great-spotted Woodpecker.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Cattle on the Marsh

Rain showers with the odd sunny spell, 17°, breezy W.

A rather damp visit to Cholsey Marsh this morning with not much activity happening.

The cattle that escaped from somewhere at the end of last week have left their mark on the marsh. They were seen on or by the allotments at Cholsey Meadows, they then made their way down on the marsh and have trampled a fair bit of vegetation on the marsh and along the river bank. Just hope not many nests were trashed!

I also spoke to a dog walker today who said that the cattle nearly forced him in to the river. He had to let his dogs go and make a dash along the bank to get away from them.

Anyway back to the birds, the usual warbler present but only Chiffchaff still obvious in song along with a few Reed Bunting.

A pair of Mute Swan with 4 cygnets seen along the brook next to the garden yesterday and 2 young Robin in the garden this morning.

3+ Nuthatch visiting the garden recently and 7 Long-tailed Tit today and a male Great-spotted Woodpecker.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Dragons & Raptors

Sunny and breezy, 20°, fresh W.

A walk out to Lollingdon, Dragonflies and Raptors prominent today.

A male Peregrine soaring high with feeding Swift, Swallow and House Martin.

Also a couple of Hobby in the area, plus 2 Kestrel, a Sparrowhawk, 3 Buzzard and several Red Kite.

Corn Bunting and Yellowhammer apparent and the odd Chiffchaff in song but not much else noted.

Later on Cholsey Hill, Corn Bunting, Yellow Wagtail and Sparrowhawk.

Dragonflies: Azure Damselfly, 5 Southern Hawker, a Brown Hawker and an Emperor Dragonfly.

Butterflies: small numbers, Large White, Small White, Green-veined White, Small Tortoiseshell, Speckled Wood, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown and Ringlet.

Garden: 2 Moorhen chicks appeared with parents over the week end and a Treecreeper visiting frequently.

The Lime trees in the garden appear to be attracting numbers of insects (Aphids ?) as over the week end Swallows, House Martins and Swifts were feeding for long periods very close to the tree tops.

Southern Hawkers

Friday, 8 July 2016

House Martins

Cloudy, 19°, breezy W.

Just a few notes from the garden today.

An adult Green Woodpecker feeding a youngster photographed by a neighbour in the garden today.

Also a Treecreeper present most days.

Good numbers of Swallow and House Martin feeding over the garden area and meadow today including the pair nesting closeby.

Breeding pair were visiting the nest site approx. every 2 minutes to feed the young.

Both Hobby and Sparrowhawk in amongst the mix of Martins and Swallows today but left without catching anything.

Hummingbird Hawkmoth seen in Church rd today (per AR).

A few pics of the House Martins visiting the nest.